Torture is an everyday reality in Tibet.
Torture is used by China as a weapon against dissent, creating a climate of fear.
Torture must stop.
To shine a spotlight on the widespread use of torture in Tibet British actors lent their voices to Tibetan torture survivors who can not speak out for themselves. Watch Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson and David Threlfall and listen to Alan Rickman.
China bans evidence based on torture
Important step for the ‘Stop Torture in Tibet’ campaign.
China has introduced a new law banning evidence obtained through torture from courts in Tibet and China. This has been one of the key demands of Free Tibet’s ‘Stop Torture in Tibet’ campaign.
Though there are many problems with the new legislation, we believe it could be a good step towards stopping the torture in Tibet.
China announced new regulations on 31 May, which came into effect on 1 July, that ban the use of evidence extracted through torture in cases that can result in a death sentence. The regulations also offer all defendants the opportunity to challenge court evidence if they were tortured or coerced into confessing. The new regulations refer to :
-confessions obtained through torture;
-testimonies extracted using violence or threats;
-evidence whose origins are unclear.
One of the reasons for the widespread and routine use of torture in Tibet and China is the use of confessions as evidence of guilt.
While Free Tibet welcomes these new regulations it is not clear how they would be implemented as they are vague, lacking in details on key points and in many instances are impossible to implement. In their current form the new regulations are not likely to have a significant effect in the short term but they may prove to be a first step towards eradicating the routine and widespread use of torture in China and Tibet.
Problems with the new regulations to ban use of evidence obtained by torture
‘Oral evidence that has been determined to be illegal in accordance with the law shall be excluded and may not serve as the basis for conviction.’ Article 2
Therefore the new regulation does not ban the use of confessions extracted under torture outright, but rather leaves the decision largely to the courts to decide.
An investigation into allegations of torture can be requested by the defendant.
However, in a country where the overwhelming majority of defendants are not granted lawyers it is unclear how the defendant would know about and utilise this opportunity.
For an investigation into the alleged torture to take place the person who alleges torture must prove that torture took place, including by giving the name of the alleged torturer.
It is not explained how the defendant may prove that torture took place or what would be considered sufficient evidence. The few examples that are cited as acceptable evidence such as giving the name of the torturer are well nigh impossible for a victim of torture to meet, rendering any such investigation extremely unlikely.
The rules do not apply to cases of administrative detention such as re-education through labour.
Many Tibetans are sentenced to forced labour for political activities through this system of detention without trial.
The challenge now will be ensuring that China’s courts obey these new laws. Free Tibet will be working, with other human rights organisations like Tibet Watch, to make China accountable to its own laws to stop torture in Tibet.
Watch the videos of actors reading torture testimonies for the campaign to give greater insight into the terrible experience of being tortured in Tibet.
What we do
Free Tibet, established in 1987, is an independent membership organisation. All of our funding comes from individual supporters. The Executive Committee determines the general policy of the organisation and guides the work of the campaign.
It should be noted that Free Tibet is not a charity, though we are a non-profit, non-governmental organisation. Due to the current laws in the UK we are unable to apply for charity status, due to what is deemed to be the political nature of our work (the same applies for organisations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace).
The Free Tibet office is a vibrant hub of campaigning activity led by the Director who is assisted by a strong team of staff and volunteers.
Free Tibet has more than 20,000 supporters. For an annual subscription fee, supporters receive our magazine plus regular mailings with updates on the organisation’s activities. Supporters are able to become further involved by joining our Urgent Action Campaigns, participating in actions and events and getting involved with their local group.
Subscribers to the Urgent Action Campaigns receive immediate information on important cases needing their individual support. The majority of cases require letters, emails and/or faxes to be written to relevant authorities. On average there are 10-12 cases per year.
Approximately 50 Local Groups work on behalf of Free Tibet in local communities across the UK and overseas. Local groups are a vital link to grassroots support for Tibet; spreading awareness in their communities by participating in Free Tibet co-ordinated actions, by staging talks and fundraising events, and by promoting the work and membership of Free Tibet. Groups can vary from a single person co-ordinating activities in their area, to a committee of people with regular meetings. All local groups are legally and financially autonomous.
The Panchen Lama Controversy
Who Will Identify The Next Incarnation Of The Dalai Lama?
A Situation Report by Wilfried F. Voss
The Panchen Lama, meaning “Great Scholar,” is the highest-ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The sect controlled western Tibet from the 16th century until the establishment of Chinese sovereignty in 1951.
The successive Panchen lamas form a reincarnation lineage, and they are believed to be the incarnations of Amitabha Buddha.
The Panchen Lama bears part of the responsibility of identifying the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama and vice versa, a fact that appears crucially important to the Chinese government when it comes to establishing their territorial claim on Tibet.
On May 14, 1995, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama identified a six-year-old boy by the name of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama, but only three days later the boy and his parents were taken into Chinese custody.
In November of the same year the Chinese had officially enthroned six-year-old Gyaltsen Norbu, the son of two communist party members, as the 11th Panchen Lama.
To this day there are no records of the boy Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, his siblings, or his parents. [Read more...]